Category Archives: India [Summer 2013]

It’s Worth It

Whew. I don’t even know where to start this or even what the point of this is.. I guess just to get all my thoughts down, maybe. I started this little blog when I went on my first “big trip” out of the country as an easy way to keep updated everyone who was supporting me.. As a 17 year old Senior in high school, the thought that I was embarking on a trip to Uganda, Africa for over a month by myself was absolutely thrilling and terrifying at the same time; I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I love thinking back to that point in my life and seeing what the Lord has taught me, changed in me, brought me through, allowed me to experience, and redeemed in and around me since then. I’m thankful for all of the recordings here of my time spent overseas throughout the past two and a half years (so far;)) for one, because when I read these (which I do weirdly often) I get to remember some of the most special people, conversations, and experiences and “re-live” them in a way, that I would have otherwise forgotten or just not thought about. Secondly, I love that I have these because I can remember where I was at that point of life during each trip (even though I realize this isn’t over a long period of time yet).. what I was struggling with, who my closest friends were, what I was learning about, what was most important to me, what I was worried about, the things that irritated me in each country, the sins that were revealed to me, etc.. It’s just really cool to see how the Lord has and is sanctifying me continuously despite my own selfishness, sin, and unfaithfulness.

So I’ve never written a post on here when I wasn’t out of the country or preparing to go.. (although I am thinking about writing about Nursing School throughout the next couple years since that’ll be just as foreign to me..), but I think that this might be a season of life that becomes very important and significant for me to look back on one day.. or not.. we’ll see.

I obviously have a love for traveling, but I’m realizing that the places I go and the things I see will not even compare to the day when I’m before the Lord and worshipping & enjoying Him forever. The only two things that will last forever are God’s Word and the souls of men- how invested I am in those two things is how invested I am in eternity. So I’m praying that I would have a passion and urgency to know God and make Him known that far surpasses my love and passion for traveling the world.. because the reality is that it is just that.. that world. Temporary. Even though I am SO thankful (gosh I can’t even come up with a big enough word to describe just how thankful I am) for how the Lord has changed and molded me through my experiences overseas, a lot of time the whole “wanderlust” and love for travel thing is all about me. I want to travel the world because of selfish reasons.

India. Whew. I don’t even know how form my thoughts into words. Since I have been back (right at a year now), there hasn’t been a single day that I haven’t thought about that place and it’s people- those who are lost and those there who are laboring to see the lost follow Jesus). I know I wrote a “post India” post a few months ago, but the Lord is still teaching & showing me so much through my experience there and constantly changing how I think about the world, specifically India.

India was the hardest place I’ve ever been. Just hard. Everything about it. I don’t even know how to describe it. God had/has a way of breaking me through India. Using sickness, the heat, smells, stares, mountains, loss of independence and familiarity, etc.., and the memories and feelings of all of it.. I was/am constantly being forced to go before the Lord in brokenness and beg for renewed love and passion for the Gospel and seeing people come to know Him.

IMG_4538

 

I was only there for a little over 2 months.. So I don’t for a second think that my time there was at all difficult compared to the m’s who have lived there long term, and I certainly didn’t face any of the challenges & sacrifices that they do and will have to while being there for such a long period of time. I am in tears right now thinking about the couple I had the opportunity of living with last summer.. the things the Lord taught me through their life and words. Just incredible. The Lord has been humbling me a lot through thinking and praying for them the past few months. One of the many things they showed me was that it’s worth it. They said that several times last summer, “It’s worth it. He’s worth it. We just know it’s worth it.” I just keep thinking about that and how true I realize that statement is more every day. They wrote me a “for the plane” note as I was leaving, and one thing she wrote was, “This is our prayer for you, Paige- that as you return to America and the comforts of home, may the Lord remind you of the billion people in India who live in poverty, in heat, in sickness, but most of all who live in spiritual darkness. May your heart be forever broken over those who have never heard.” …Man.

In all my sin, selfishness, and self-centeredness, I have not thought about the people in India in a humble, prayerful way all the time. Most of the time, when I think about my time in India last summer, it’s totally and completely centered on me.. what I learned, how I grew, what I liked or disliked, what I got to do, how it affected ME, etc.. ME ME ME. So recently, I’ve seen the Lord continuing to answer my sweet friend’s prayer. I’ve been really convicted about making my time overseas all about me, especially my time in India. The past few months the people of India have been on my mind in a beautiful way, by the grace of Jesus. I am hurting for them. I am hurting for them because of the physically poor conditions they live in, but more importantly because of the billion people who are living in spiritually poor conditions and have never even heard of the name of Jesus. So how in the world can I go to this place and not want to do something about that? How can I be content with a comfortable life when 1.5 billion people are on my mind every. single. day? How can I go to this place and make it about me? Somehow I did/do (sin sucks..). How can I leave and be okay with never returning? I can’t.. there’s no way. If Jesus is who He says He is and if He has rescued me, then He is worth it, and I can’t be okay with not doing anything about it.. I can’t help but want to join God’s mission in the world (India) because He has rescued and redeemed me. My soul yearns for something more. 

So although I’m still working through some hard questions and feelings that I don’t know how to comprehend when it comes to India, it’s not about me. Not at all.. and that is something the Lord is/ will have to remind me of daily as I preach the Gospel to myself. He has given and is continuing to give me rest in Him & that He really is good and faithful in everything.

 

A family that I’m close to is preparing to move to India in the next year hopefully 🙂 ; this summer I have met a young couple who is in the beginning stages of church planting among Indians in Memphis; I have just started a nannying job for an Indian family; and recently I have been in contact with a college student my age who is from MS and has a ministry in northern India, and she goes back and forth to India all the time. It has been so obvious that the Lord is placing me among people who have a deep love for Indians and that He is using that to soften my heart and give me a deep love and passion for them and laboring among them specifically as well. All of that to say.. recently, I’ve had a strong and urgent desire to return to India. The thought of living there long term has crossed my mind several times this summer. Thinking about what that would mean and look like is hard but oddly exciting as well. I am reading books about India, the history, leaders, women, religions, etc.. Right now I’m reading two, one entitled Absent Friends: The Hidden Dangers of Being an Indian Girl that contains stories from women in India about the reality and impact of gender discrimination in the Himalayan Foothills.. and another book, Living and Working in India which is pretty self explanatory.

Who knows if I’ll ever go back to India, but I want to be prepared if I ever do. There are several reasons I want to go back, and it seems like every day I find another reason why I have to. For many in America, Asia is probably the most distant and unknown of the continents, but with half of the world’s population and ninety percent of the people being lost, it needs our attention. India alone has over 1.5 billion people, compared to the United States’ 317 million people. India has sooo many UUPG’s (unreached and unengaged people groups), which means there are no evangelical believers at all among that group of people and not a single one of them has ever even heard the Gospel before. I want to do something about that so badly. Sometimes I feel like I want to get up, jump on a plane, drop out of college, learn Hindi, move to a village in India, and never look back.. And then other days I feel like I’m so unqualified and hypocritical.. A lot of times, I’m too timid and scared to share the Gospel with my family and friends that I see weekly, and I think I can/ should go to India to make disciples? Who am I kidding?

But then Jesus gently reminds me of the beautiful grace of the Gospel again- that Jesus is my righteousness. I don’t ever tell people about Jesus because I’ve somehow become qualified, know a lot, am a “great Christian,” or anything like that, but only because Jesus has changed my life and He has commanded me, along with every other follower of Christ, to go and make disciples. I am completely unqualified, totally hypocritical, unworthy to even bear His name, much less tell other people about Him, but because of what God accomplished through Jesus, I am adopted, now His child, and a saint on mission with Him as He redeems this broken world. I am reminded that He IS redeeming the world, every part of it. And we get to be apart of that!! America and India and everywhere in-between, the God of the universe will redeem the world back into right relationship with Him, and one day I will be worshipping this King and enjoying Him forever with my brothers and sisters in India, and around the world.. What an amazing amazing eternity that will be!!!!

So maybe one day I’ll be back in India after all. Or maybe not.. Maybe I’ll be somewhere else, or maybe I’ll stay right here in Memphis, TN. But there is one thing I know for certain, one thing that has been proved to me over and over and over again, and that is that God is faithful. He’s faithful in relentlessly pursuing us. He’s faithful in changing us and our desires. He’s faithful in keeping His promises. He’s faithful in using our weaknesses for His glory. He’s faithful in redeeming the seemingly unredeemable aspects of our lives. He’s faithful in making His name great. How incredible is it that God chooses to use us as His means to bring others to Him!? He doesn’t need us. He’s worthy for us to make Him known. He’s worthy of each of us giving up our ways for His ways. He’s worthy of us being uncomfortable. He’s worthy of all of us and so much more. He’s so good, y’all. So, so good. I’m so thankful that He saved me, that He is my Father and I am His child. I’m so thankful that I get to be on mission with Him as He accomplishes His purpose of redeeming the world. What a gracious Father we have!

 


India to Israel

Since I have been back from India, I can honestly say my life is different. From my perspective on the world and the way I deal with life & people (and myself).. it all looks completely different. I’m not saying that the day I got back from India I was a completely different person than when I got there. But there hasn’t been a single day since I’ve been back from India (7 months ago) that I haven’t reflected over my time there this summer, and the Lord has used this time to change me.

I want to write about life since I’ve been back from India because I want to remember this time and what the Lord taught/ is teaching me through it.. and hopefully encourage someone else. So I apologize for this really long “hey I’m going to Israel” post that isn’t even about Israel at all until the end.. (you can skip down to that if you’d like 🙂 ) This is going to be long and all over the place, so I apologize in advance.. 

Sooo, even if I didn’t realize it, I had a lot of expectations about India and my experience there before I left.. but of course it wasn’t anything like I could have expected (shocking). Unmet expectations lead to resentment, and as weird as it sounds, that is completely true in this case. If I’m being real, most of last semester, until Christmas break, was spent mad at my time in India, with bitterness towards the country as a whole, and also angry at God and doubting who He was. And not a single soul knew it. I spent 4ish months doubting my faith and didn’t talk to anyone about it because I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and guilty. And I didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t spend hardly any time with the Lord at all. Now, a lot of this has to do with my time in India, but a lot of it also has to do with just growing up.. and some from classes I’ve taken since I’ve been in school (as silly as that sounds), religion courses and a ton of sociology courses that have told me that culture shapes every part of you.

When I got back from India, I started to really think about that. “I’m just a “Christian” because I live in America. But if I lived in India, I would be a Hindu.” Some other thoughts were, “Every religion has the same basic characteristics, so who am I to say that I’m right?” This was especially hard because I lived among Hindus for over 2 months, so I not only heard or learned about another religion, but I walked among them, saw them going to temples multiple times a day, praying fervently to their gods, talked with them in depth about the Gospel etc.. day after day after day. It was draining. So it kind of became the question of “how do I know what I believe is truth” kind of thing. And I didn’t read the Bible because the whole time I would be I was thinking, “I don’t even know if I believe in this so why am I reading it?” So when I read the Bible it reminded me of my doubt, so the easiest thing to do was just to not read it at all.. 

I really struggled with this. I didn’t realize how much until I finally went over to the house of a wonderful family and talked with them about it. These people have become dear friends of mine because of our time together (talking about India) recently, and they are actually preparing to possibly move there soon! I avoided going to their home all semester because I knew we would talk about it. But on Christmas break, I finally went to visit them, and a remark about India was made… One look from the wife/mother at me, and I was in tears. Not cute, sweet tears. I mean the ugly cry, y’all. It was bad and embarrassing, but now we make jokes about it, so it’s cool. ANYWAYS, I finally vocalized what was going on with me, and a lake of water (my tears), a box of tissues, and 5 worried/ concerned kids later, my heart and head were so relieved. Through our talk, I gained some wisdom and acountability and community. After that (long) talk, I began to actually think about and work through these things instead of ignoring them. I began to realize some things about myself that I’ve never paid close attention to. For one, how logical I am. I want everything to have a reason and an x-y-z answer to it. I just want things to make sense, and I want to be able to figure it out. Secondly, I analyze everything. EV-ER-Y-THING (it’s the trait I most despise about myself). (Both of these are issues of needing control. I know.. The Lord and I.. we’re working on it..) So I really struggled with thoughts like, “I ‘feel’ like the Gospel is true and that I have been walking with Jesus and my encounters with him are real, but how do I know it’s not some psychological mechanism I have come up with myself to fill the need to feel loved and have purpose??! How do I know that’s not the reason the whole world does this, and it just looks different because of our different cultures?” The only thing holding me together a little bit was that I knew my life had been changed. I knew that my desires were different. I knew that specific areas of my life that once seemed hopeless and destroyed had been redeemed.. Something in me kept saying that it couldn’t just be coincidence, and none of that heart change and mind renewal could have come from myself.. (Because I know myself and how broken some areas of my past were.) So again, I struggled with a million different thoughts, but at the same time, I really didn’t struggle because I didn’t let myself think about it at all. I completely avoided it at all cost.. I’m not sure why. Scared of what I would come up with if I did think about it or scared of the frustration that I would feel when I couldn’t come up with anything.. I’ve been warned about all of these things, and even talked other people through it, but I’ve never struggled with it myself until a few months ago. And for me, that was extremely frustrating. But over the past couple months, the Lord has been teaching me about faith. Something this “church girl” has heard (and taught) about for years and years.

I began reading that I am “saved by grace through FAITH” differently. It’s faith. That’s it. There is no tangible “Because of ____ proof, we know that this is true,” etc.. And the Lord has given me that faith!! So long story short, I decided to trust the bible as truth. I’m choosing (not really because God has sovereignly already chosen me- and chosen for me- it’s only from Him that I have faith.. but that’s a whole other novel) to believe the bible is God’s Word, and it alone is truth. I’m not always going to “feel” saved or “feel” like God is with me, but my emotions and feelings are so wavering, inconsistent, unstable, and not dependable at all. “Facts trump feelings” has become my motto the past few months. And I trust the bible as fact. So whenever I start to think something contrary to God’s Word, my thoughts are what is false, and God’s Word remains truth. Always.

Just like with loving anybody, it doesn’t come naturally (at least it won’t forever..) to love God because we’re sinful and selfish people. I have to choose to actively love God, even when I don’t “feel” like it. 

The Lord has really been teaching me a lot and increased my faith dramatically over the past couple months, but I know that there will be other times in life, whether thats a few months from now or 10 years from now, that I will doubt if God really is who He says He is again. And when (not if) that time comes, I will choose, by God’s grace, to love the Lord, remain faithful to Him, and trust His Word as unwavering truth. Again, it’s really not me choosing anything.. God decided this for me a long time ago, and I am so thankful for that. The reality is, even if I was born in India and regardless of who my family was or what culture I was surrounded by, the Lord would have still saved me because “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He predestined us (me) for adoption as sons (daughters) through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:4-5). My God is not limited by culture or anything else. He is completely sovereign over all creation, and according to His Word, He has chosen me to be his daughter, and He would have made that happen regardless of anything in or around me.

So as the Lord is sanctifying me, other struggles have arisen like even though I know the Gospel is true, and I know that the Lord has saved me, what about the people in India (and other dark and extremely lost places around the world)? Now I’m starting to feel guilty almost that the Lord has saved me (in a place where it seems easy to), but all my friends and other people I shared the Gospel with in India will never know and follow Jesus.. and a lot of it has to do with where they live. But again, I have to remind myself that, just like with me, the Lord is not limited by our location or anything else around us. And remember that, before the Lord saved me, I was just as lost as my friends in India. I also have to trust that our God is one “who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). The Lord wants every single person know Him a whole lot more than I, or anyone else, does. So why do I not trust that He will go to all lengths to make that happen? I have to know that just like in my life, the Lord is completely sovereign and in complete control of the country of India as a whole and also in each of the hearts of ever single person there.. and that’s exciting stuff! What a HUGE yet PERSONAL God we serve!!

I have been clinging to Acts 17:26-27 as I think about and pray for India and Nepal daily: “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him though he is not far from any one of us.” (Still struggling a bit with this, so prayers would be appreciated).

So the Lord is continually changing my heart and attitude towards India and bringing to mind the wonderful times there instead of the ones that were draining and discouraging (and I’m trying to forget about the weeks I was sick there.. ew). The first few months after I got back, if/ when people asked me if I was going back, I would reply with a sweet, “Ummmmm, no I don’t think I would..” But inside I was thinking “HECK NO ABSOLUTELY NOT NEVER IN MY LIFE.” But now, the Lord (truly, it is all Him) is doing wonders inside me, and I am planning on going back in the near future 🙂 (just maybe not get sick this time). I love India, and I am extremely thankful for how the Lord used my experience there to deepen intimacy between He & I and how He used it to mold me and shape me to look more like His Son. I’m praying that God would allow me to see the world like He does.

I realize this is a lot, and I would be surprised if anyone actually got to this part of this long winded post that probably didn’t make any sense and doesn’t have any pretty pictures.. BUT if you did, I truly hope and prayed that this didn’t cause anyone any doubts of their own in who God is. (Please don’t stop now because this is the good stuff!!) My prayer is that it would encourage someone. I went months without talking to anyone about my unbelief because I felt ashamed and embarrassed because I have been a lot of places around the world as this “missionary,” and now I was doubting it.. I felt like something was literally wrong with me.. It’s exhausting pretending like you have it all together when on the inside everything is a train wreck because you’re doubting in the only One who gives you peace. So much pain and insecurity could have easily been avoided if I had just brought it to the Lord and then to the believers around me. I had created a standard for myself of this perfect Christian girl that I can’t even live up to. So if you’re reading this, and you can relate in any way, please know that it is normal, and I believe everyone has struggled with this.. even those who are seemingly unwavering in their pursuit of Jesus. Be encouraged that there is SO much grace and freedom in the Gospel. And run to Jesus. Don’t limit God.. He can handle your doubt/ unbelief/ insecurity/ whatever it is! Don’t ignore whatever thoughts are damping your walk with Christ because you are afraid of what will happen when you start to work through them.. Don’t think that He is ashamed of you, embarrassed by you, or that you are now somehow less of His child. Thankfully, God’s love for you isn’t based on your performance. It’s based on Christ’s performance, and His performance was flawless.

The incredible thing about the Gospel is that, since our salvation has absolutely nothing to do with us, who we are, or what we’ve done/do, we can’t “lose” it.. We are never saved by our performance, never sanctified by our performance, never finally delivered by our performance. It’s all done by grace.  When you sin or doubt God or whatever (which we all will daily, even after the Lord saves us), you’re slate before the Father is still that of perfection and righteousness and holiness. You know why? Because it has nothing to do with you! And that’s a GREAT thing! Because of what God made possible through Jesus, our record of sin and screw ups and regret is completely taken away and it is replaced with Jesus’ record! That’s INSANE! So you’re not perfect, you’re never going to be, but the Good News of the beautiful Gospel of Jesus is that you don’t have to be!! There’s so much freedom and grace!! So whatever it is.. Take it to Jesus. He really knows you. He understands you. Every part of you. And He still loves you an unimaginable amount. He desires to be in relationship with you. So stop feeling the pressure of having to have this perfect relationship with God and feeling like you’ve failed when that doesn’t seem to be the case. Ask him to increase your faith. But know that your hope is not found in the purity of your faith, but in the power of God’s amazing grace. It’s all about Him, and what He has already done. And talk with other believers about it(I would be MORE than happy to talk with you about it..preferably at Newks 🙂 ). ….Soooo basically, do the exact opposite of everything I did! All of these struggles I have been warned about, and all of the things I’m talking about I have heard so many times before, but there’s just something about “lightbulb” moments that certain experiences bring about, and it’s just wonderful. I’m thankful for these moments when Jesus gives a little more clarity to us 🙂 

The past 2 months have been the best. It’s been hard, but seriously I’ve seen Jesus in every moment. From seeing my sorority sisters decide to follow Jesus to seeing evidence of redemption in areas of my life I thought redemption was impossible and would never come.. And the intimacy I’m experiencing with Jesus is unlike any other time in my life.. It’s been so sweet. My expectations for my trips are always wrong. And by wrong, I mean I actually experience the exact opposite of what I assume I will. But it’s so good. It reminds me that I’m not in control, that I never will be, and honestly, that I never want to be. My Father knows far more and far better than I do. Even if it’s not until months or years that He shows me the “what”s and “why”s, it’s always perfect. And it’s always so He gets every single bit of glory from my experiences/trips/ life.. and what else do I want? Absolutely nothing. So I am loving this season of life (something I would not have said 3-4months ago). Not to say life is perfect right now by any means because that is definitely not the case.. But I am walking closely with Jesus, and that’s all I need and want. Through my experiences last summer (in all 3 countries), I learned and saw just a little bit more of what it really means/ looks like to really follow Jesus.. Truth makes us responsible. & Now that I know truth.. there’s no going back. I’m learning that my life and the goal of my life is not about making myself happy (shocking, I know..), but it’s about bringing God glory.. So in the midst of struggling, instead of trying to get out of the situation or fixing it so the struggle isn’t there anymore & I’m happy, I’m learning to embrace the struggle, depend on Jesus, and desire that He gets the honor and glory regardless. My happiness is just a by-product of walking closely with Jesus & resting in Him. & He’s so worth it. Christians, we don’t read our bible, spend time in prayer, go to church, etc to become this better person/christian, or even to make/prepare ourselves to be an awesome wife or husband to someone one day, or anything like that.. that’s not the goal. The goal is Christ Himself. To know Him better. He’s the goal. He’s the reward. And it’s totally worth it. I’m grateful for my time in India and for how the Lord used my time there to teach me so much about myself, Himself, and the people around me, that I might not have learned otherwise. I’m really grateful for the times of refining and sharpening even when it’s hard.. I’m so grateful for how He chooses to mold me to look more like His Son.

OKAY, so ISRAEL!!! I’m going in less than 10 days!! I’m really excited for this one. It’ll be different from any other trip I’ve taken for several reasons. First of all, I’m actually going with a group of people instead of by myself this time (I know, I’m weird). So that’s exciting!! I don’t know any one else going.. but I’ll make new friends, and that’s so fun!! Also, this is the shortest trip I’ve ever taken (12 days) (besides Honduras).. I always go places for months, so it will be weird feeling like I’m leaving right after I get there.. I don’t know how I feel about that because I won’t get to be submersed in the culture and get to build relationships with people there 😦 Also, it’s a tour of Israel, so there won’t be much evangelism or public “ministry” per se. (anyone who knows me knows how I feel about tourists/ the whole idea of “touring,” so I might just go a little crazy..) But we’ll get to walk where Jesus walked, learn where Jesus taught, pray where Jesus prayed, take the Lord’s Super where He did.. like oh my gosh, HOW AMAZING! I’m so pumped. Oh, and we’ll get to float in the Dead Sea on my birthday, so how awesome is that? I’m so excited. Can you tell? I don’t know how I’ll update/ document this trip, but we’ll see..

If you would like to know how you can pray for me/us as we go, first of all, pray that God would get glory in every part of the trip. Pray that we would meet people/ houses of peace and someone would decide to follow Jesus! Even though this isn’t exactly a “mission trip,” that should always be our aim and mission, even in Memphis, TN. So pray that we would somehow be able to engage the locals and that our conversations with them would be intentional and that people would hear the Gospel & decide to follow Jesus! Pray that the Lord would continue to increase my faith. It’s seriously creepy how perfect the timing of this trip is.. I know He has been preparing my heart before I even knew I was going, so pray that he would continue to. (A few months ago, I was planning on going somewhere else for the summer again, but randomly-as all my trips seem to come about- this trip was made available for me to go, so I decided to do this and stay home for the summer.. it’s weird how often my plans don’t happen.. haha). Pray that intimacy between the Father and I would deepen. For those praying, I truly appreciate you and your prayers so much. They mean so so much to me! Thank you!


Video from India & Nepal (Summer 2013)


Grace like rain

Just a little over a month ago I got back from India. [Apologies before you even start to read this because it may just be my longest post ever…. sorry.] I lived in Himachal Pradesh, the northern most state in India (aka the foothills of the Himalayas). It was a summer I will NEVER forget. Lots of memories made- good and bad. But overall, I absolutely loved my time there. It was a huge learning experience. Every time I go out of the country, I feel like I’m face to face with all my sin- all my selfishness, pride, self-righteousness, etc.. It’s a love/ hate relationship sometimes, but I am so thankful for how the Lord chooses to teach and mold me to look more like His Son.

IMG_0503

Once I got back to India from Nepal, I only had 2 days there before I flew home. This was very sad for me because the decision to come home early was not made until I was in the capital of India the week before we had to fly to Nepal. So my luggage, with most of my things, were still in HP- about 6-8 hours away from where we were. So once I got back to India from Nepal, there was no time to drive all the way back to our home to get my things, and definitely not any time to see and say goodbyes to any of the people I met 😦 I am still really sad and missing them, but I am hoping to be back and see them again! (Facebook helps too.)

Leaving was definitely bittersweet, but I was ready to be home in a sense because I just wanted to get to the doctor and get better (and who likes being away from home & familiarity when they are really sick?). Thankfully, the flights were smooth back to the U.S., and one of my best friends, Calley, picked me up from the airport! I was overjoyed. She took off work that day so she could hang out with me the entire day to make sure I would stay awake and hopefully get over jet-lag ASAP. We went to my favorite places, Newks and Jerry’s Sno Cones 🙂 and also to get pedicures. My sweet friend Bree met us for our 3 hour lunch. They are 2 of my favorite people, so it was SO good to catch up and talk with them about our summers. I didn’t get to see my family until that night when I got home, but I was so glad to be home. I was SO excited about seeing my baby brother after a whole summer without him!

IMG_0816

photo

The best way I can think of to wrap up this trip is to answer the most frequently asked questions I have gotten since I’ve been home, but if you don’t care to know any of the answers to these questions, just skip to the bottom and read the good stuff- how awesome the Lord is. Plain and simple. None of this really matters.. it’s just to answer questions if you’re curious 🙂

How did I get to go to India? Who did I go through/ with?

-Since last summer, I have been planning on spending the summer of 2013 in Uganda, the same place & with the same people I did last Christmas. I was having some major withdrawals and really wanted to be back there. Like my trip to Uganda, I went by myself to India. I didn’t go with or through any church, organization, or group. I have some friends who have lived there for 4 years, and I have kept up with them since they’ve been there. Facebook stalking them went to an all time high last summer, and that was when I started really fervently & consistently praying for them. I’ve honestly have never really been super observant/passionate about this part of the world. I didn’t know too much about it before preparing to go. The thought of going to visit and serving along side them there in some way came last September/October- ish. I started communicating with them more about the possibility of going to India soon after that, and in late January, we talked over Skype and decided I would come for the summer!

How did a broke college kid like yourself afford it?

-By the grace of God, for real. I wrote about the financial struggle of getting there in a previous post, but sending out support letters are great. I probably won’t do that again since I’ve already done it twice, but I really do believe that is a great way for other people to partner with you in the spreading of the Gospel. Thankfully, I already had money for a plane ticket set aside since I knew I wanted to be somewhere overseas for the summer (I thought it would be to Uganda and/or Kenya at the time). The key really is to just plan ahead and save up. It’s possible. Want to go somewhere? Plan ahead! Set a realistic time frame before you go and budget well until then. (and raise support if you need/want to. The Lord has used the church to meet needs in my life in crazy ways.)

Why travel?

-Why not? Haha no, but really. This is one of my favorite questions. I love to travel because I just LOVE seeing/ learning new things. It’s not so much the places I go as it is the people I meet there. The world is so incredibly different and similar all at the same time, and it literally fascinates me.  I love experiencing different cultures and doing things I could/ would never do in my every day life in America- whether that’s bungee jumping over the Nile River in Africa, backpacking/ climbing the Himalayas, or hanging out in the slums deep in the jungle talking with people I would otherwise never have the opportunity to meet. And obviously, the #1 reason I love to go overseas is because I want to tell people near and far about Jesus. I really really try, though I fail every single day, to live my life exactly the same in Memphis, TN as I would/do overseas. The Gospel compels me to tell others about Jesus and make disciples. I am so unworthy. So unworthy. But the Lord has chosen to use me, and for that, I am humbled and grateful- and I want to go. I want to do exactly what the Great Commission commands all followers of Jesus to do, but that is whether I am in Olive Branch or across the world.

Why now?

-I am absolutely convinced that college is potentially the best time of your life. First of all, college campuses are a minefield for disciple making and rocking the whole world for Jesus. Second, there are not going to be many other times in life for me or most other people to travel completely free of responsibilities and other people relying on you. The independence you have during your college years can’t be beat by any other time in life. I am trying to spend my summers between my college years going to different countries because I know that even though I want to spend my life doing things like this, it will look much different in the future than what it looks like for me right now. Anything can happen. The Lord could completely close one door and open another that was completely off my radar, but in my opinion this is absolutely the most perfect time to do this. I am so so so beyond thankful to have had the opportunity that I did this summer, and I am expectant and available to go wherever He leads next.

Did I/ do I ever get scared when traveling/being in a foreign country?

-I don’t know why, but no, not really at all. Even in India, I never feared for my life or anything. Once I am there, I learn more about the culture and always have someone that has been there who can tell me what to do, what not to do; what to say, what not to say; where to go, where not to go; etc.. And I just have to trust the Lord. If I go overseas and am scared to go anywhere and too scared to talk to anyone, I will miss out on SO much! Obviously you have to be cautious and learn about where you are at and the people there before you go roaming around the whole country by yourself, but for real, I’m pretty confident it’s not any more dangerous than America would be in some places. When I go overseas, I just become this totally different “whatever happens, happens”, go with the flow person. I have to trust that the Lord has gone before me and will protect me, and if not, then He will get the glory from it. No matter what happens, my Father knows far better than I do. He knows what I need long before I even know I need it. So no matter what I try to prepare for, the Lord is the sovereign One.

How does this trip differ from Uganda? And which did you like more?

-This is almost an impossible question to answer. I literally could go on and on about the similarities and differences (mostly differences) in each place and experience, but honestly, I love them both. They were so different that it seems impossible to compare the two, and say which one I “liked better”. Read the 2nd to last post, “Keepin’ it Real”, to hear my heart on my trip to Uganda.. It truly is about the people I’ve encountered. But the Lord taught me SO MUCH before, during, and after each trip. He’s still teaching me so much through my time in Uganda over a year and a half ago. I would say I had more fun in Uganda because I did more touristy things like white water rafting and bungee jumping and probably enjoyed my time there more because hanging out with kids all day was comfortable and fun for me. But on the other hand, I would say that the Lord showed me what it means to live in complete abandonment and reliance on Him more so in India. I just love both places so much, and the people I have gotten to meet. It truly is the biggest blessing.

What did you learn about yourself?

-Ohhhh weeee. Hmmmm. This is a hard and embarrassing one. I learned, yet again, how selfish I am. I learned how I truly have set the comforts of life that I am used to- air conditioning, structure/ organization in life, good food- above the Lord. Really, I have set these things to be gods in my life without even realizing it. And when those are gone, man is my sin right in front of my face. And when I realize it, even more sin shows up because I get defensive and prideful and start to justify it. How silly. Many, many time this summer, the Lord has broken me and brought me literally to my knees and made me realize how much I need Him. How much I need His grace on my life. How much I need to Gospel. When things go wrong, or not the way I plan or expect, I have a tendency to doubt God and think I know what’s best for my life, not Him. How crazy of me. Not that I have mastered this now by any means, but the Lord is continuing to show me different sin in my life that I have to be repentant of- some that I didn’t realize before now.

What was the culture like?

– Oh goodness, this is a big one. One that I don’t really know how to answer.. If you read all of my blog posts you will get a bit of insight into the culture in each one. Asian culture is crazy different than ANYTHING I am used to. There’s so many different things I could say to answer this question, so I will be brief and give you just a few examples. Men don’t approach women. At all. I didn’t talk to any guys the entire time I was there, besides those I lived with. Even if a guy was interested in a woman, he would have to go through her friend. So it was hard to get used to not making eye contact with, not smiling at, not talking to any guys. If a woman did, it would give a guy the wrong impression. And if any man approached you, then it would be completely out of line. India is so populated. There are a TON of people there. All (for the most part) worshipping false gods. And the entire culture/country reflects that. This is hard to explain but let’s just take a small thing like traffic for example.. Their gods are gods of chaos. Whereas, in America there is organization because our God, THE God, is a God of structure and order. It’s okay for them to do certain things in their culture (sleep with multiple partners; smoke harmful things) because their gods did/do it. It is a very dark place.

Favorite thing you did?

– I didn’t really do too many overly exciting things while I was there, so it’s hard for me to think of one specific thing that was my favorite. But I did have a ton of things that I loved while I was there before I got sick. One of my favorite things I got to be apart of while I was there was house church with the people I lived with. We studied 1 Thessalonians while I was there, and the Lord taught me so much about community and loving other believers. I really enjoyed going to the Tibetan Temple on my 2nd full day in India. It was Buddha’s birthday, so there were TONS of people there. We got to meet a lot of girls and even got to go into a home of a few of the girls we met. My favorite day the entire time I was in India was one in which NOTHING went like we planned. I went with the 3 other college students I was working with to go to a college campus in hopes of meeting and hanging out with students there. Once we got there it was pouring down rain and no students available to talk. At all. We ended up riding busses all day, and sharing with whoever sat next to us. Over 10 people heard the Gospel this day. We were made fun of, told to get off a bus, and received awkward/confused looks. This whole day was filled with one awkward, tension-filled conversation after the other, but let me tell you, it was the most rewarding day ever. The Lord taught me SO much. SO MUCH. When I was getting off my last bus ride of the day after a discouraging conversation with 4 women, the Lord gave me the most overwhelming, satisfying peace. Not because I felt better than them, but because the Lord truly did give me confidence in the Gospel and in who He is in that moment. He reassured me through His word that no matter what people’s response is, He has commanded me to make disciples. That I am not responsible for how people respond to truth, but to give it. To go to the ends of the earth. And to share with whoever I come in contact with, simply because He is worthy of it. As silly as it sounds, as I was stepping off that bus, I felt like Jesus was right there with me.

What was a typical day like for you in India?

– My goal for each day was the same: to meet college aged- girls (maybe older) to befriend and share the Gospel with them.. and hopefully spend my summer discipling them. Even though almost every day had the same objective, each day looked totally different. Sometime I would be at a college campus, sometimes a temple, and sometimes just riding busses all day and sharing with whoever I sat next to. For the first month or so I got to work with another team of 3 college students. We lived together & went out together, so that time was the busiest time for me. We traveled to different cities in India, one 10 hours away, and did different things, but no matter where we were we were trying to meet girls and share the Gospel with anyone we could. When that team left, it was a little bit slower just because I couldn’t go out alone and the rainy season had started. There’s no way I could try to tell you what each day looked like. Each one was so different.

Did you get homesick?

-Surprisingly, not hardly at all. Definitely not the first month or so I was there. I guess I did end up missing certain things- the luxuries of America- but I don’t think I got homesick really at all. Once I got sick, I started Facetiming my mom and friends often, but I think that just made it worse. I love my family and friends, but I knew the plan was to be there for 3 months, so home was just off my radar.

How did you get sick? Are you okay now?

-Well, I ended up having a type of parasite/ worm. I know that’s totally disgusting and none of you wanted to know that, but that’s what happened. It was not fun at all. I’ve never been so sick in my life. I could have gotten it from anything. It could have been the water, but it was probably the fruit. I ate a lot of pineapple that didn’t look too appealing, so I’m thinking that was probably it. Whoops. BUT I got home, went to the doctor, and about 2 & a half weeks later I was all better! I am feeling 100% now, and I am so thankful!!

IMG_5778

It feels almost like I wasn’t even there now.. I know that sounds totally outrageous to some, but I’m hoping those who have traveled to do ministry like this will understand it. People stop asking you about it. And when they do, for the most part it’s questions like “How was it?” Then you answer, “Good..” And then it’s over. I longed/long to talk with people in depth about India and my experience there, but the truth is that most people don’t really want to know. They ask about me getting sick and the heat and the food.. But when I start talking about the difficulty of trying to do ministry there, making disciples, and church planting, people (for the most part) shut down, and I can tell they have lost interest. The only people I’ve really talked with in depth about it all is 2 of my best girl friends from home, but besides that.. it’s just surface level conversations that honestly leave me feeling dry and discouraged. Again, this is one of those thing that I have been putting off writing about because I feel like my brain cannot adequately form words in the right order to convey what I’m feeling and what reverse culture shock & the “post India blues” is like, etc.. much less type them out without feeling like I sounds totally ridiculous. But I will still write nonetheless.

Now this is partially out of my longing for close community and largely out of my selfishness. This relates to one of the questions above, “what did you learn about yourself?”  I am so selfish. SO prideful. And for absolutely nothing. Every day, but especially when I go overseas, the temptation to think that I am better than anyone & everyone else, to think that I understand the Gospel & the Great Commission more than other people, to think that I am this super awesome Christian is right in front of me, and I am SO quick to give in. Eeeeek, I am honestly wanting to hit the delete button on every single word as I’m typing this. But the truth is, that I am so stinkin’ quick to believe Satan’s lies. I even want to believe them. It’s so easy. The truth is that when I want to go overseas, it’s largely for my own selfish gain.

I am just scratching the surface here on my prideful tendencies and selfish agendas. I am brought to tears even as I’m typing this just thinking about the grace the Lord has on His children. All of them. No matter what we’ve done or will do, no matter how many times we turn away from Him, no matter how many times we take glory that is His, He still loves us. Not only does He just love me, but He wants to be close with me. He wants a relationship with me, and He pursues it every single day. I wrong Him every minute of every day, and yet a perfect and Holy God still loves ME!? Why?!

It’s so hard for me to even believe that. It’s so hard for me to lay down my pride and my independence to realize that I need a Savior. That I deserve nothing more than Hell. That I really do desire and long for something more in life because one without Him is miserable and unsatisfying. But it’s even harder for me to believe that a perfect, righteous, Holy God would want a relationship with someone like that. Someone like me. Much less just offer me a relationship with Him that requires nothing in return. My entire life, I have felt like I have to do all of these things for people to like me and that if I do anything wrong, they won’t like me anymore.. and then there’s not anything I can do but be really nice to them and impress them, trying to earn their favor again, for them to love me again.. Whatever I do will determine my standing with a person because that’s how earthly relationships are. Since I have decided to follow the Lord, I have struggled with trying to prove to Him and others that I am somehow worthy of Him. That I am worthy of salvation and a life with Christ. He has had to chip away the parts of me that feels like my salvation has anything to do with me.. that I have to do all of these things to earn His love. That I need to go all of these places and lead all of these bible studies and go to church & Sunday school every time the doors are open and be this perfect little Christian girl every where I am. But the truth is that I don’t have to be or do any of those things. He will love me the same regardless. Nothing I can do will make Him love me any more or any less. The Lord knows me. Every part of me. And loves me despite all of me. I was Hell- bound, deserving life & eternity apart from Him, and the Lord chose to save me. He chose to give me the faith to know Him. I can’t earn it. No matter what I do, I cannot and will not ever be good enough, but the good news is that I don’t have to! That’s the Good News of the Gospel, y’all! There is SO MUCH GRACE! The Lord has already given us more grace than we could ever need.

The Lord of the entire universe created me & YOU for Himself, and when man fell, we were completely separated from Him. There was no hope for any of us. But thankfully, our Father provided a way. He sent His Son, perfectly righteous and Holy, to take our sin upon Himself and experience being forsaken by His Father so we would never have to. God did this, not to save us from a hot place with fire, but so that there would be a way for us to be in right relationship with Him. Yes, He wants YOU that much. There was no other way. God’s word says that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and that “no one seeks God” (Romans 3:11). And in Romans 6:23, God’s Word tells us that because of that, we deserve death (Romans 6:23). So where is there hope? Is there hope for us? YES! Romans 5:8 says that “God demonstrated His love to us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Not when you were acting like you had your stuff together, not when you were in church reading your bible, no, Christ died for you in the midst of your sin and filth. When you were manipulating that guy, when you were at the frat house wasting your life away to alcohol and sex, while you were still a sinner, Christ died. That’s when. He knew all of your sin, and in the midst of that, He died for you. HE. DIED. FOR. YOU. All because the Father wanted to be in right relationship with you. This is not of ourselves. We couldn’t do anything to earn it. And we can’t do anything to lose it. So stop feeling guilt and shame over your past or sin; repent & follow Jesus. Through the cross and the payment He’s already paid, He has already forgiven you. So if you’re like me, stop trying to be “good enough.” You won’t ever be good enough, but the good news of the beautiful Gospel of Jesus is that we don’t have to be. There is freedom and grace in Christ. We do all of the things that God’s Word tell us to because this Gospel compels us to, not because we have to for God to love or save us.

So if you want to follow Jesus, I plead with you to turn from your sin and follow Him! There’s not any special prayer to pray, Jesus just wants you. I would love to talk to you if you have any questions about this Gospel. I know, it sounds too easy. Too good to be true that God would do this. But it is true. He has offered us life and life abundantly through His Son. We just have to take it.

I am in desperate need of the Gospel everyday. I need to be reminded of it every second. It has changed me. I am so grateful for the new things the Lord made me realize about the Gospel this summer in India. He is so abundantly gracious. If you would like to know how to pray for me one last time, please just pray for this time of reflection on my summer and that the Lord would continue to reveal His self to me through it every day. I’m still working through things that I don’t really understand, so I would be so grateful for your prayers!

ALSO- If anyone wants to help me send a package to the family I stayed with in India, please contact me! I am planning to send it in late August/ early September.

IMG_5779

Lastly, but most importantly, PLEASE join me in prayer for India.

  • Pray for the M’s who are currently there and the challenges they have to face on a daily basis: the very real risk of persecution, steep mountain trails to be hiked, and frigid temperatures. Pray that the Lord would give them grace and His strength to press on and remember that their home is not here. Not in India. Not in America. But their home is in heaven with Christ. Pray that they would be reminded of that daily and really trust that truth.
  • Pray for the government and for the leaders of the country.. that the Lord (who is the sovereign one regardless) would put in place leaders who follow God. Pray for the current leaders, that they would come to know Jesus and follow hard after Him.
  • Pray for Bible translation and distribution.
  • Pray for more people to be sent to India to live among the people & spread the Gospel.
  • Pray for the believers there. New and old. Pray that they would be strengthened and encouraged.
  • Pray that Jesus would be lifted high and the millions of idols and demons enslaving this nation would be brought low.
  • Pray for those who heard the Gospel this summer for the first time. That the Gospel that they heard would not be able to leave their mind. Pray that every time they enter a temple to worship one of their false gods, that they would doubt them & be curious about the truth they heard about Jesus Christ. Pray that the Lord would use this to draw them quickly to Himself and that they would turn from their sin and to Christ.
  • Pray for others who do not know Jesus in India. Pray that God would, right now, soften their hearts and prepare them to hear the Good News of Jesus. Pray that they would be receptive and come to know Christ. Pray that people would come to know Jesus and follow hard after Him, reaching the people around them. Pray for churches to be planted, that they would be healthy, Gospel-centered, and reproducing.

the Taj

Well one of my last adventures in India and also the biggest one was going to one of the 7 Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal. Now, I have to be really honest.. I didn’t even know too much about this place. Okay, I hardly knew anything. I’ve heard of it a few times, but that’s really it. But let me tell you.. it’s just amazing. AH-MAZ-ING. Lucky for you, this post is mainly just a bunch of pretty pictures, so enjoy 🙂

IMG_6058

DSCN0001

IMG_6176

IMG_6070

The Indian man who was showing us around and telling us about everything literally grabbed my camera from my hand, told me how to stand & pose, fixed our hair, and took pictures of us. Most of them are so awkward that I’m too embarrassed to document them on the internet.. This is the least of the awkwardness..

IMG_6173

But tons of other people were doing the same thing. We had so much fun with it.

IMG_6094

IMG_6096

These are my sweet friends I got the pleasure of staying with this summer! Are they not the cutest?! The first picture is my absolute favorite. Love these two.

IMG_6181

IMG_6101

Half of these pictures probably look the same, but at least now you can see it from all angles, right? 😉

IMG_6184

IMG_6189

IMG_6192

Taj_Mahal,_side_view

5s3j3962_taj-mahal

IMG_6193

IMG_6142

IMG_6129

I wish you could really see the detail on and inside this building (we couldn’t take pictures inside). It is absolutely incredible. Most importantly, I wish you could hear the story behind this gorgeous building. (look it up, and read about it 🙂 )

IMG_6138

IMG_6136

IMG_6200

IMG_6197 IMG_6201 IMG_6172

I had the BEST day here. To top it all off, after walking back from the Taj Mahal we found CAMELS. So. Much. Fun. (I didn’t know how I was supposed to climb onto this little guy.. hints my weird face. So the guy had to show me how to do it.)

IMG_6157

IMG_6158

IMG_0950

I hope you get to visit this beautiful place one day as well, and tell a whole bunch of people about Jesus while you’re there.


Kathmandu, Nepal

IMG_6580

Man oh man, being in Nepal was such a sweet time. I was still not feeling very well, but despite getting sick there only a few times, I felt good most of the week. I knew this week in Nepal was going to be great, but seriously, I just had so much fun.

First of all, I realized this summer how much I need people. I long having good conversations with those I love, doing fun things with them, and just the presence of those important to me make me one happy gal. Now you are all probably thinking, “Well duh, everyone does.” But I love being by myself also. Since I was fine when I went to Uganda by myself a year & a half ago and was there for over a month, I thought I would be just fine on this trip since I had dear friends that I would be living with.. even though it was for a longer period of time. However, I realized that I longed to talk to my closest friends a LOT this time around. I came to the conclusion that I will probably never travel like this alone again. Although I love the adventure, there are just things that you miss doing it “alone.” I want to be able to share that same experience with someone else from now on.. whether that is my best girl friend or my future husband.

I know that sounds silly, but really, many times this summer I felt like I had so much I wanted to talk about, but no one to express it to. Having no one around me my age that I have history with was a challenge, and I had no idea how much I would need that.  Community is so important. Even though I totally had that with the incredible M’s that I lived with (who were such a HUGE blessing to me), it’s different with people your own age who you’ve been doing life with for a while. But enough rambling.. back to Nepal. Because of this, once I finally got to Nepal where there were people I knew from home and some who were my age, I. WAS. ECSTATIC. One of my guy friends from home, Zach, was there with a team of 3 other guys around my age. Zach is the one who led the team on the Honduras trip I went on right before I came to India this summer. They had been in Nepal for 6 weeks, and I was looking forward to meeting up with them the whole summer. Also, a team from a church that I am close to from home, Longview, was there the same week I was, doing the same thing. It was SO GOOD to see some familiar faces. Seriously, so good.

The team from Longview and I got to watch some awesome MK’s during the day while their even more awesome parents were in meetings. It was completely chaotic and loud and obnoxious, and so much fun all at the same time. We had really long days, so most of the time I crashed by.. ehhh, 9 maybe? For real though, 9pm at the latest. But it was so worth it. I mean look at these cute little faces and how much fun we had!

IMG_0670IMG_6395IMG_6372IMG_6364IMG_6437IMG_6461IMG_6416

Thankfully, the team from Longview was so gracious to me and let me stay with them & work with them the entire week. I really could not be more grateful for them. I enjoyed hanging out with them and being apart of their team so much. In my free time, I hung out with Zach and his team (Spencer, Mark, and Caleb) for the most part. It was so good to be around people my age who have the same desire and passion to make much of Jesus in the same way that I do. Plus, we had tons of fun.

On my last night in Nepal we saw Monsters University. (the 2nd time I’ve seen it since being in South Asia 🙂 ) Surprisingly, the theaters I’ve been to in India and Nepal are much nicer than the ones in America.

IMG_0846IMG_0841

Although there are SO many differences between India & Nepal, a similarity is the religions. Hinduism & Buddhism are dominant in this country as well. We visited the Boudha Stupa, the 2nd biggest and most holy Buddhist worship spot. There were several people walking around it, turning the wheels to get credit for their prayers.

IMG_6355

IMG_6352

IMG_6348

IMG_6250

IMG_6356

IMG_6229

IMG_6231

IMG_6294

 

IMG_0934

The day before I left, I went with Zach and his team to Pashapati, where one of the world’s largest Hindu temples is. They burn around 70 bodies a day here (for anyone to see), and then put the ashes into a “holy” river which they believe carries them to their next stage of reincarnation.  IMG_6575 IMG_6576 IMG_6578

While the 5 of us were in Pashapati, before we went down to the temple, we spent hours in a park-like area where tons & tons of people were. We got to talk to & share the Gospel with many people. We had a blast playing cricket, trading magic tricks, chasing little kids, and talking with these Nepali’s. IMG_6522IMG_0716IMG_6567IMG_6520IMG_6527IMG_6548photo

Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of a sweet 20 year old girl I got to share the entire Gospel with, Roman’s Road, and talk in detail about several things regarding Jesus, His Gospel, and life after death. She was sitting with her 3 sisters, but she was the only one who could speak and understand English. She seemed very interested. She was honest with me and asked several questions. When I talked to her about a decision she said, “I will have to think about it before I make a decision.. I worship this god and my sister worships another, and you worship this Jesus who you say I cannot worship anyone or anything else if I follow him.. So I just have to think about it before I do anything.” That was the most open & honest response I’ve gotten the entire time I’ve been in South Asia. I wanted to talk to her more, but we were interrupted by a man who had been standing beside us listening to our conversation the entire time without my knowledge. He began to raise his voice and get angry at me saying, “You are a missionary!? You are prophesying about Jesus and you are trying to convert! You cannot do that! I know what you are doing! I know that you are a missionary!” Thankfully, one of the guys I was with, Mark, heard the man and came quickly to talk to him, so I had to get up then.

Zach started to show some magic tricks that he knew to just a few guys he was talking to, and it ended up drawing a huge crowd..IMG_6556

He took this opportunity to share with this group his story and God’s story and began telling them how the Lord completely changed his life when he was 16 years old. The group quickly dwindled.. IMG_6565

We have to know that some will walk away and be completely uninterested, but some will stay. Praising God no matter what happens, know that when you share the Gospel with someone, we are to share, and He is the one who saves.

Now encounters with monkeys are inevitable in this part of the world.. They are NOT cute & cuddly. They are mean. They will jump on you and bite you and steal your small children. No joke. The key is to not interact with them.. no attempting to pet or feed these animals.

IMG_6503

IMG_6505

And do not.. I repeat do NOT stand in front of one for a long period of time trying to take a picture of it. It WILL make this nasty, scary face at you and run at you. Just trust me.

IMG_6605

So coming from and going back to India, I can’t help but compare Nepal to India. Even though they are so close together, they are SO different. Now this is obviously just my observations from my very short time in both of these places, so I certainly do not claim to know all about neither Nepal nor India. From my experience, the people in Nepal are much more friendly and open. Contrary to the people in India, they tend to not like controversy. They are just much more warm. The people I talked to in Nepal were very curious about this Jesus I was talking to them about. Not once did I get blown off like I did so many times during my time in India.

The day I landed in Kathmandu, Nepal, I spent the day going to and from the airport, picking up and dropping off M’s. I was only in the country for an hour & a half at the most, when on my second trip to the airport, I shared with a 15 year old girl the Good News of Jesus. She had IMG_6242heard a little bit about Jesus before because of some European tourists who came to her school and shared with them. After I shared the Gospel with her, she ended up being a person of peace. The first person of peace I have found the entire time I have been in South Asia. I had been in India for a month & a half and did not talk to a single person who really wanted to know more about Jesus (that I know of). But I was only in Nepal for an hour and a half, and already, someone was open to hear more about Jesus and was genuinely curious about the Gospel. An hour and a half. This just shows the contrast between India and Nepal.

Honestly, this triggered some resentment and frustration towards HP. Now I am not saying this to say that Nepal is better than India or that I liked it more or anything like that. They are just so different. There is so much history between these 2 countries that I wish I could share on here (but let’s be honest, I’m already long-winded enough 😉 ). To be brief, Nepal was once a country completely closed off to the Gospel. No one was allowed in or out. Many years ago, some M’s spent years & years at the border of Nepal praying everyday that God would open the country so that the Gospel would be able to get to the people. A friend who told me this said that one day God did just that. He opened Nepal, and since then, God has had his hand on that country. People travel there to seek out different religions and answers. It has never been the same. Not to say that there are tons and tons of believers in Nepal. That is not the case at all. But it is evident that the Lord has changed the people group as a whole. He has softened their hearts, giving them a curiosity and interest in the Good News of Jesus.

IMG_0765

IMG_6252 IMG_6260

I know, by God’s grace, that I will be back here. Hopefully in a year. I absolutely LOVED my time there, and I am so so thankful for the opportunity to get to be in this place. Please join me in prayer for this country.

  • Pray for the M’s who are currently there and the challenges they have to face on a daily basis: the very real risk of persecution, steep mountain trails to be hiked, and frigid temperatures. Pray that the Lord would give them grace and His strength to press on and remember that their home is not here. Not in Nepal. Not in America. But their home is in heaven with Christ. Pray that they would be reminded of that daily and really trust that truth.
  • Pray for the government. For more than 200 years, Nepal has been a Hindu country. But through a miraculous turn of events (GOD), changes in the government have paved the way for a birth of a democracy, allowing more religious freedom. Nepal is still in transition, so pray for the leaders of the country.. that the Lord (who is the sovereign one regardless) would put in place leaders who follow God. Pray for the current leaders, that they would come to know Jesus and follow hard after Him.
  • Pray for Bible translation and distribution.
  • Pray for more people to be sent to Nepal to live among the people & spread the Gospel.
  • Pray for the believers there. New and old. Pray that they would be strengthened and encouraged.
  • Pray that Jesus would be lifted high and the millions of idols and demons enslaving this nation would be brought low.
  • Pray for those who do not know Jesus. Pray that God would, right now, soften their hearts and prepare them to hear the Good News of Jesus. Pray that they would be receptive and come to know Christ. Pray that people would come to know Jesus and follow hard after Him, reaching the people around them. Pray for churches to be planted, that they would be healthy, Gospel-centered, and reproducing.

I beg you not to just read these words, but to really join me in praying for this country!

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. -1 John 5:14-15

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. -2 Chronicles 7:14 

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. -1 Timothy 2:1-6

IMG_6540 


Keepin’ it real

I have put off blogging for a while along with getting too specific about how I was doing here and what I was feeling, but I promised myself when I started this thing that I would be completely honest and share as much as I could.. for myself when I look back on these trips and also for others.. I want to be real. And real I will be.

Roxhaul, IndiaLocal man at the India/Nepal border post©Richard Olivier1988Let’s start from the beginning. It was January when is was official that I would be in India this summer. I was completely stoked that I was going to be living with some old friends who I have missed a ton and admire for so many reasons. I had the money for a plane ticket already set aside (thanks mommy), but now the question was how was I going to get the rest of the money. Now for a person who loves doing stuff like this and has already sent out support letters before for my last big trip (Uganda), sending out letters asking people yet AGAIN for money sounded like a terrible idea. However, as a poor college student the thought of trying to get $2,000 for this trip seemed impossible.

After also deciding to go to Honduras the week before India and after talking to various people, I decided I would send out support letters again. At the time I went to Uganda last year, about a year and a half ago, I was still in high school and was really involved in the church that I grew up in. I was really close to a lot of families from church, school, and the city I live in because I’ve been there my whole life. So it was really easy for me to send out letters telling people I was going to Africa and ask them to support me prayerfully and financially. I sent out close to 60 letters and raised almost $5,000 which paid for my entire trip. All of the money was raised really quickly. I never even had time to worry (maybe a week, tops) if I was going to have enough money to go. I had people constantly telling me how they were thinking about me and praying for me leading up to the day I left and even while I was there.

However, this experience of support raising, and really this whole trip in general, was/has been quite the opposite.. I talked to a woman who has been discipling me at Memphis and some of my really wise sorority sisters about my upcoming trip to India and told them that I didn’t want to send out support letters again because I felt like I was being annoying and placing yet another burden on people begging them for money.. I felt like I was mooching off people to get me places. But then, I was told by them that when asking people to support you financially to go overseas, you are asking them to partner with you in the spreading of the Gospel.. that I & they have to realize that I couldn’t go without their support and that the Lord is using us both in different ways for kingdom building. So with that, I sent out support letters. I heard that “the Lord will provide” over and over again just like I have my entire life, so I trusted that I would have the money I needed. It was really easy to believe that this need would be met because it was so easily met last time. This time I only sent out 18 letters because I am no longer involved in the church I grew up in, though I love them dearly. When you go to college, things just change. The people you are close to change. And although, I am now involved in a church close to school, besides other college students, I am obviously not very close to as many people there.

So long story short, my goal of $2,000 was not reached.. I raised $400. Months and months of worrying and stressing out. Everything that could go wrong in the planning of this trip seemed to go wrong, and honestly, people did not seem as enthusiastic as they were towards me when I was planning to go to Africa. I didn’t have the overwhelming support of a church or any other large group of people. I felt like my support system was just completely cut in half, a third even. Even just with friends. Going from being friends with the same people all my life who know me better than I know myself to having almost all new close friends is a huge adjustment, and I didn’t realize at all how that would effect me in something like this.

Now please please know that I am not saying any of this out of pity or for anyone to feel bad for me AT ALL. This is just me being honest and completely vulnerable about my experience throughout this entire trip, and I will get to why I am saying all of these things soon, I promise..

So once I finally got here, I was still holding on to the assurance that the Lord had given me several times that I needed to be here this summer to make much of Him. The first few weeks were awesome. I had so much fun. There were a lot of hard moments, but I saw the Lord in all of it. To be honest, India is just a difficult place to be. Spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally. For doing something like this, it’s just draining here (as it is in many places of the world). Please don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love India. Love it. But if I’m being honest, it’s just a tough place. I will be able to go into more detail once I get back into the States. So about my 4th week here (2 weeks ago), I started to get really sick. 2 other people in the family that I am living with had a stomach virus, so we figured that I was just getting it too and that it would be gone in a few days. Well, my sickness was dramatically worse, and now (2 weeks later) it’s still not gone. I have not been able to go out and do hardly anything. And after going to the hospital 2 days ago, we made the decision that I needed to go home early to get some medical care in the U.S. among other things. I need to get well soon so that whatever it is doesn’t turn into something even worse. But also, if I am too sick to be effective, then there is no point in me being here.

So the reason I contrast this trip with my trip to Africa is because that’s what I have been thinking about for about 2 weeks now. I’m just confused. This year and especially this summer & since I have been here, the Lord has grown in me a passion for disciple making. A passion and love for all people from all over to follow Jesus. A passion to see every nation, tribe, people, and language standing before the throne and before the Lamb (Revelation 7:9). A passion for discipleship. A passion for church planting. And I know all of this is biblical. All of it straight from God’s Word. So I know, for a fact, that this is from the Lord, and not something I’ve somehow made up myself. With all of this, I have realized this summer that going to Uganda to play with little African children is not necessarily biblical. Please hear me out. I don’t know that just going to hang out with kids all day every day or work in orphanages for a month is biblical. If I am not making disciples, then what’s the point? If I can’t speak their language, and if there are already people from that country or others who do speak their language, then is it really beneficial for them that I be there? Sure, it makes me feel good about myself, but was there any kingdom impact? These are all just the crazy thoughts that have been running through my head the past month.

Now please understand that I am not saying at all that no one should ever volunteer in orphanages overseas or do anything with children. I’m all for that. But I think there are certain people, those who speak the same language and are able to articulate the Gospel to them in particular, in which it is beneficial and necessary for them to be there. They are able to be effective in those areas and make much of Jesus. But for me, I have done a lot of reflection this summer on my trip to Africa a year & a half ago, and I have come to realize that no one came to know Jesus as a direct result of anything I did. Not saying that the Lord didn’t use me. Or that He wasn’t/ isn’t able to in that setting. I’m just saying that the whole going to Africa to teach little children sounds really good to people. It does. People, as well as yourself, think you are doing a great thing. I did tell people the Gospel. But that was it. I told them, and I left.

Now (yet another disclaimer), am I saying that I regret going to Uganda? Absolutely not. But am I saying I would have done things differently if I could do it over again? Absolutely. I have no doubt that I will be back in Africa again.. probably sooner than I think. But I have just realized that sometimes the Lord doesn’t always want us to do what looks appealing to the world. So with all of this being said.. here’s what’s been going through my crazy little brain the past few weeks. Why was the trip to Uganda such a “success”? From support (prayer, finances, encouragement, etc..), to my health, to sharing about it afterwards. And why has this trip seemed like less than a success? From support to getting so sick that I have to come home.. When I am certain that this is the kind of thing the Lord desires all of us to do.. sharing the Gospel, making disciples, CP, etc.. I’m honestly a little mad that the Lord would allow all of this to happen if this is what He tells me to do.. Why was everything so easy for the trip to Uganda and everything is so hard and seem like such a challenge here?

And to be completely honest, just really really honest, I don’t know the answer to that. I have been wrestling with it for a few weeks. I’m confused, and a little mad at the whole thing. I am spending a lot of time in prayer and in scripture seeking the Lord in this, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t struggling with it. But I do know that the Lord is always faithful. He is more gracious to me than I could ever even wish for. He is completely sovereign.. always in control even when I don’t have a clue what’s going on. He knows. And I can trust Him. Even though this trip may not have appear as a huge success with tons and tons of people deciding to follow Jesus, I am confident that the Lord has been at work the entire time and that He will continue to be long after I am gone. I am also really thankful for the immense grace the Lord has shown me this entire trip.. I don’t deserve anything. Absolutely nothing. And I certainly do not deserve to get to go to India and get to share the Gospel with anyone.. much less people who have never ever heard of King Jesus before. I don’t deserve to have so many people loving me and missing me, supporting, encouraging, and praying for me. So even when Satan attacks and messes with my emotions, mind, and even body, I have to hold on to truth. And that truth is that the Lord has been so gracious to me. He has been apart of this trip. People have heard the Gospel. And that’s exactly what I came here for. Despite my shortcomings and total failures, the Lord is enough, and the Gospel is completely sufficient.

Now, I hope that none of this offended you or confused you or caused you to even think twice about making disciples (right next door or across the world) because that is so not my intention. I am just being honest and sharing this because it’s been a huge challenge for me during my time here. But everything I say on here will not be perfect. I’m human, and I’m a sinner. I don’t know everything, nor do I claim to, so I will make mistakes, and some things I say on here may be completely wrong. In which case, I genuinely would LOVE for someone to call me out on and talk with me about it. With that being said, I will be completely open and honest with my testimonies on all the trips I go on, so you will understand how the Lord is working in and through me.. The good the bad and the ugly. So I apologize for all of the imperfections and offensive things that I write.

Now I also apologize for being a total Debby- downer on this post. But this is just what “being real” looks like today. Haha. Unfortunately, coming through a computer screen, there is absolutely no way that I can adequately convey exactly what I am thinking or feeling.. But I have really tried. I can’t wait to talk with people when I get back and get insight into this difficulty. I hope you know that I do love India. I really really do. I am so sad that I have to come home early. I wish so badly that I could stay for all 3 months of the summer like I planned. But I look forward to being better and sitting down & having real conversations with people about this trip, making disciples, and India. This week has been really hard since I’m still sick, but I went to the hospital and got some medicine that really seems to be helping! I went to the Taj Mahal this week which was AWESOME. I can’t wait to document pictures on the next post. It’s just gorgeous. Wait til you see it. I’m finally headed to Nepal tomorrow. I have been looking forward to this for the entire summer. I just can’t wait to be there. I get to see some familiar faces of people that I love! It will be so great!

Please pray for my last 2 weeks here.. that the Lord would give me grace and His strength to be able to finish strong. Pray for those that will be traveling and be in Nepal as well as those we will encounter this week. Pray that the Lord would go ahead of us, preparing hearts to hear the beautiful Gospel of Jesus and that they would be open and receptive. And please please please I beg you to continue to pray for India.

“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” Psalm 73:25-26